Morel’s degeneration theory by Thomas A. Ban

The notion that mental illness is the result of an innate biological defect, the result of corruption of germ plasm that becomes manifest in increasingly severe mental syndromes from generation to generation. It was first presented in 1857 by Bénédict Augustin Morel in his “treatise” on “degeneration” (Ban 2002; Shorter1997, 2005).

Ban TA. Neuropsychopharmacology the interface between genes and psychiatric nosology. In Lerer B, editor. Pharmacogenetics of Psychotropic Drugs. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2005, pp.36-56.

Morel B-A. Traité des dégénérécences physiques, intellectuelles et morales de l’éspece humaine. Paris: Bailliere; 1857.

Shorter E. A History of Psychiatry. New York: John Wiley; 1997.

Shorter E. A Historical Dictionary of Psychiatry. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2005.


Thomas A. Ban
February 4, 2016